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Blind Canadians Overlooked by Olympic Websites

Date: 
Monday, April 5, 2010

“Blind Canadians who rely on adaptive computer equipment lost out on much of the Olympic experience because key websites were not designed to be accessible.”

The charge comes from an Ontario expert on website design, Jeffrey Stark. “Olympics websites Vancouver2010.com and ctvolympics.ca are both inaccessible to Canadians who are blind or have limited sight. It’s a shame, because international guidelines exist on how to develop accessible web sites or applications for everyone, including persons with disabilities,” according to Mr. Stark. These guidelines are found at http://www.w3.org/wai.

Stark discovered the shortcomings before the Opening Ceremony in Vancouver. "My 6 year old daughter and I spent an hour trying to get content information on line, but it just wasn't accessible. We contacted CTV via their website to recommend a few simple remedies, but as the final weekend got underway, we had no response.”

Donna Jodhan, 2nd Vice President of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians says, "In 2010, there is no excuse for any organization to operate a website that is not fully accessible and usable by all Canadians. Guidelines and expertise are readily available to help organizations that need to update their sites."

The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC) is a national organization of Canadians who are Blind, Deaf-blind and partially sighted, that focuses on researching and providing input into public policy issues.

When he first noticed the problem websites Jeffrey Stark contacted AEBC, setting out three examples of shortcomings in the Olympic on-line offerings:

  1. The video player used by the sites for live streaming video does not support keyboard usage. This would cause problems for a host of users of voice recognition, screen reader and alternate input users.
  2. Images lacking alt tags. Probably the easiest correction of all the accessibility requirements is when placing a picture on a page, the site should attach a piece of text to the image (in the code), describing the image.
  3. Meaningful links allow a variety of users to use link-based navigation to navigate a site effectively, so the user knows where he/she is going when selecting the link.

Contacts for further details or comment:

Donna Jodhan: 416-497-7306, 2nd Vice President, Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians

Jeffrey Stark: jeffinkanata@gmail.com